Are You Positive? Try Writing from A New Perspective
Dozens of studies have shown that writing, in the form of journaling, is beneficial for both physical and emotional wellbeing. But often, being told to journal simply isn’t enough – your journal fills with repetitive complaints, and although a certain amount of “dumping” is healthy, it can begin to feel like a job instead of a journey.
So I developed writing prompts that are both psychology-based and similar to those used in MFA Programs for creative writing, but geared towards healing the spirit, developing mindfulness, and integrating creativity into your daily life. I’ve taught these exercises to incarcerated youth, professional adults, and high school students, as well as to psychotherapists who wanted to learn to use therapeutic writing with in their practices. I’m constantly delighted to see my students surprise themselves with what they write.
“If you don’t use your imagination, it will use you,” is an old saying that rings true. So if you find yourself obsessing, beating your self up, or imagining negative outcomes, you might be wise to channel your creativity toward a more positive outlook on life.
Here are a few prompts that may very well lift your spirits:
- Pretend that you can give yourself a gift from nature. It can be anything – a sunset, an ocean wave, a bolt of lightning – anything you choose. Describe your gift in writing and explain why you chose this gift for yourself. Does it soothe you? Give you superpowers? How does it feel to give and receive this miracle?
- Write down the negative messages you tell yourself, leaving a space below each annoying thought. Then counter each less-than-helpful statement with the words of encouragement, support and love you might hear from an ideal parent, mentor, or higher power.
- Choose a moment in your day – it can be as small as when a clerk smiled at you or you noticed a child’s laughter or a lovely flower. Now savor the moment in writing. Use all your senses as you describe the experience and how it felt in detail. Practicing this daily will help you to become mindful of the tiny delightful moments in even the most challenging days!
- Describe your ideal life. Be creative and reach for the stars! Next, list baby steps you can take to realize your vision.
And last but not least – an old standby – the tried and true Daily Gratitude List. This has long been recommended in twelve-step programs and it turns out that, in recent scientific studies, acknowledging our blessings has been shown to increase serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitters in our brains.
Please don’t forget that simply using your creativity – whether it be painting, playing music, making a collage or writing – even for just twenty minutes a day – will definitely improve your spirits.
So put down your phone, turn off the news and use your imagination – before it uses you!
For more on Diane’s work, click on her byline above.